Demystifying Instructional Design

Julie Havill - Getting into the nitty gritty

September 14, 2021 Rebecca J. Hogue Season 1 Episode 3
Demystifying Instructional Design
Julie Havill - Getting into the nitty gritty
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Rebecca interviews Julie Havill. Julie has been working in learning and development for close to twenty years. She's worked with people from around the world using modalities from web-based training to virtual reality. She has a Master's Degree in Adult Education and currently works for a company that provides learning services to its clients. Julie lives and works in Bloomington, Indiana USA. She believes that when people can be their best in the jobs, they can be their best in other parts of their lives. She is passionate about being a part of helping people be their best.

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REBECCA:
Welcome to Demystifying Instructional Design, a podcast where I interview various instructional designers to figure out what instructional designers do. I'm Rebecca Hogue, your podcast host. Welcome, Julie, to Demystifying Instructional Design, a podcast where I talk to a variety of instructional designers about exactly what they do to begin with, Julie, can you introduce yourself?

JULIE:
Sure. Thank you, Rebecca. I am Julie Havill. I'm located in Bloomington, Indiana. I've been doing instructional design specifically for just about 10 years. I've been working in training, learning and development. Most of my career. So just around 20 years.

REBECCA:
How do you describe what you do?

JULIE:
Yeah, that's a challenging one. And I think the title of your podcast is quite relevant because I often do feel like I have to go into a longer explanation than I'd like to about what it is that I do. If I say I'm an instructional designer. I kind of get quizzical looks on people's faces sort of a little blank, like, OK, I'm not sure what that means. So typically I try to boil it down to that. I work in learning and development, help people just learn how to do their jobs and be successful in the work that they do and try to avoid being aligned with, oh, you do the dreaded web based trainings that we all have to sit through. I'm like, Well, you know, that's a part of the job, but it's not. It's not all that I do. So that's about how I describe it.

REBECCA:
What are your typical tasks in a given day?

JULIE:
I do a lot of meetings, conversations with people reviewing source content. I do a lot of writing throughout the day. Fortunately, I get to have good conversations with peers to draw upon, you know, their experience and expertize, depending on what the current project is that I'm working on. But a lot of reading and writing and talking seemed to be my my typical tasks.

REBECCA:
For you personally, what kind of projects do you find fun?

JULIE:
I like the projects where I get to get into the real nitty gritty about what people are doing on the job. So really getting a sense of what their daily work is like, what their workflow is, what the tasks are that they're trying to create and and being able to get a true sense of what success looks like in that role and then doing performance support, driven, wanting to. It's kind of a buzz right now and has been for a little bit. But workflow learning, I really like to get into the projects where it gets me into that space that I'm allowed to truly support people in knowing what they need to know and having the support that they need to do their jobs and do it well.

REBECCA:
You mentioned e-learning. What kinds of instruction do you design?

JULIE:
Well, I do have, you know, kind of a core of web based trainings, but currently I've been able to move my career a little bit more toward the workflow learning and performance support space. So right now, I'm actually working on projects where we use a software program that overlays systems that that people are using and on a daily basis, be it something like Workday or Salesforce. It overlays that and provides in system performance support so people can access, if needed, job aids or other resources while they're in the system. You know, little videos just to get any of that information and assistance that they might need. They get it while they're working in the system and don't have to leave it to me. to look through a user guide or, you know, a user manual or have to exit the system to get any kind of technical support that they need. Everything's really right there supporting them, completing the task as efficiently as possible.

REBECCA:
The fields have come a long way, so it sounds like a bit of a merging of technical writing, technical support and training wrapped into one thing that is performance support so that you're helping make that happen. The next question I have is what is your niche? Because when students start in an instructional design program, one of the things we mention is that everybody, you know, eventually finds a niche, finds a something of a part of the job that they're really good at, or that they and that they really enjoy doing. And so how would you describe that for yourself?

JULIE:
Where that lands for me is now, especially that I'm doing so much of this work with enterprise wide systems that people are using. I'm becoming somewhat of an expert in user experience design and how to look at those systems kind of diagnose where the problems are, where people are going to face challenges, looking at background data on how people are using the system where things are kind of getting messed up, where the challenges are and then figuring out how to use for. Form a support to support them in completing tasks on those systems. So it's sort of like my niche has become that in system performance support and really drilling down into the completing of specific tasks. And how do we, you know, do we automate some things for them that are repetitive, that they don't really need to do any way, that they can just let the system complete that for them? Or is it like a guided walk through to complete a specific task? Anything to help them best use that system?

REBECCA:
What skills do you find that you need in order to do that?

JULIE:
Yeah, I think one of the biggest skills as an instructional designer, even in general, is being able to listen. It's knowing when to sit back and listen and then how to formulate those good questions. Anything that I've done in the past, as far as during my master's degree, I took a lot of courses on effective listening. And then in just other more informal training experiences that I've had, I've really focused on listening and then also asking good questions. And that helps with what I'm doing right now, because I can hear from the people who are using this system, I can hear from the people that are administrators of the system, the people that are on the the downstream effects of people not using the system appropriately can get all, you know, gather all of that information and then turn it into some sort of solution that supports people, you know, as they're using the system to address kind of everybody's concerns.

REBECCA:
What do you find your biggest challenges are?

JULIE:
I think one of my biggest challenges is handing over things for people to review, and it's just kind of nerve wracking. It's sort of like you work on something and you created something that you feel pretty good about and then you've got to let your baby go and hope nobody tells you that your baby's ugly. So I think that, like personally, is probably one of my biggest challenges, just the nerves associated with that. But otherwise, I think it's convincing people of the value of instructional design and stepping back and taking the time to get to know what the worker and learner experiences and not jumping to a conclusion that, oh, they need to, they need this web based training. It might be that they need something very different, and just throwing a bit at them isn't going to solve the problem and provide them with the support that they need. So I think it is a challenge to get people sometimes to take you seriously as someone who can do that analysis up front and recommend things rather than the order taker situation that a lot of designers find themselves in.

REBECCA:
Yes, the boss coming in and saying, we need training for this. Let's take a step back and see if training is the solution for the problem. What is the problem?

JULIE:
Right, right, because sometimes that's not even training as the actual solution, and you know, I say sometimes as a designer, if you really get to do that analysis front piece, you might work yourself out of a job because in that the discovery might be made. Oh my gosh, this really isn't even a training issue that we need to set people's office space up in a different way or something like that, you know, might be a non training issue entirely.

REBECCA:
What do you wish you had learned sooner regarding instructional design? So what do you know now that you wish you had learned sooner?

JULIE:
What I wish that I knew sooner, I think, is the value of having skill sets and things like in the development tools I found. Follow the instructional designer track of being more on the the design side and not so much on the development side. So I do analysis, design, evaluation, but then development using articulate or any of the Adobe products. I really don't have a skill set there because I haven't had to do that part of the e-learning development, and I wish that that was something I knew more about. I'm always trying to learn from my peers that do have that skill set, but that would be something that I would encourage instructional designers to get to know at least one of those programs because it helps you to know what the capabilities are that can help you be more creative with those tools.

REBECCA:
And when you're coming up with design solutions, sort of like we'd like you to do this, but I need to know that that's possible.

JULIE:
Is that even possible? Yeah. And how can we make something like that happen if we can't make exactly this happen? That's something that I like about what I'm doing right now is I've been trained and performance support tool how to design you for it. But I've also been trained, basically how to develop in it. So as I talk to the developers, I'm like, I need this question mark to appear here and stay here when the pages refreshed or something like that. But I actually will know that that's possible and a little bit how to do it and can have a more productive conversation with the developer than.

REBECCA:
And so these are skills that you know a little bit, but don't have to be an expert. Yes.

JULIE:
Yeah. And I think that I would say that about those development tools. You definitely don't need that be expert in them. It just depends, though, on what kind of instructional designer that you are. So we can wear many different hats and there will be, you know, many instructional designers probably listening to this podcast that will say, Yeah, you know, you really do need to be expert in these tools just depending on where you work and what the expectations are.

REBECCA:
I think that goes back to the niche, right? Is your niche that because you mentioned you, so how many other instructional designers do you work with?

JULIE:
Oh, my gosh, let's see, there's probably about 10 of us on this particular team, so it's a pretty big

REBECCA:
organization. And so how many what other professionals do you work with?

JULIE:
Primarily the instructional designers, along with our media developers and then the clients, I primarily work with people in the pharmaceutical industry, so I work with a lot of scientists really often, you know, creating courses for them or administrators.

REBECCA:
What advice would you give to new instructional designers?

JULIE:
Don't be afraid to to offer your expertize, even if you've been kind of called in to create something specific. Find a way to have a conversation with whoever's made that request of you to take it back a step and be curious about why is that particular solution? Why has that been selected? What's the problem that you're trying to solve for? What have you done, you know, in the past? What's the experience of your, your learners, you know, on a daily basis? Just to start to tease that out a little bit and see if you can't find a better solution, it could be what they've ordered is actually the right thing. And that's great. When that happens, it can validate the request, but it's also really energizing when you can help shed light on an issue and add that additional value.

REBECCA:
So the last question I have is what is your prediction for the future of instructional design?

JULIE:
That is a good question. I think that the opportunities for instructional design are going to continue to grow. In my experience, I've seen learning and development become more and more valued and starting to get a seat at the table where, you know, it really wasn't before or kind of what's sort of happening. We send that over to training and they take care of it. Whereas now learning and development representatives are becoming more of a part of the conversation around meeting business strategic goals that kind of, you know, fulfilling missions, that kind of thing and seeing how someone representing learning and development can really contribute to those broader conversations.

REBECCA:
To me, it sounds like the increased value and the understanding of the value of an instructional designer to the organization is increasing.

JULIE:
Yeah, I really think so. Like I said, I've been doing it for a while and I truly have seen where our clients are asking for more analysis type projects. So doing some analysis on the front end rather than just saying, you know, well, we thought about it and we think we need this, you know, they're they're coming to us and saying, here's the challenge that we're having. We'd like to learn, look at it from a learning and development perspective, you know, and you know, help us with this. What do you think?

REBECCA:
Well, I want to thank you very much for coming and talking to me today about this. Thank you very much.

JULIE:
You're very welcome.

REBECCA:
You've been listening to Demystifying Instructional Design, a podcast where I interview instructional designers about what they do for show notes, go to DemystifyingInstructionalDesign.com. If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe. Thanks.